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To answer this question properly, we must first know what gambling is. Gambling is betting on a game of chance -- risking loss of property in exchange for the opportunity to take someone else's possessions, with nothing of equal value being given to repay the loser. Is such a practice acceptable according to God's law?
The Bible records three ways a person may lawfully obtain a possession from someone else. He may earn it by constructive labor. He may purchase it. Or he may receive it as a gift, if the owner freely and willingly chooses to donate it to him. See Matt. 20:1-5; 13:45,46; and Acts 20:35. But gambling does not fit any of these categories. Therefore, gambling is a morally illegitimate means of taking possessions from others, regardless of the size of the stakes..
The gambler has too strong a desire for the possessions of others. He seeks to "get something for nothing." He wants to take what belongs to others without giving proper payment. The Bible has a name for this attitude. It is called "covetousness" or "greed," and it is forbidden by God in both the Old and New Testaments (see Exo. 20:17; Acts 20:33-35; Rom. 1:29-32).
Jesus said, "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12). Does the gambler practice the "Golden Rule"? Is he not trying to take other people's money -- the very thing he does not want them to do to him? Again Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Does the gambler believe this, or does he think it is more blessed to take than to give?
Moral issues are decided in Heaven, not state capitals or Washington.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2/5/2005
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.